5 things I wish I knew before I got married
Before I met my husband, I was saving myself for someone special. My parents had told me to make a wise choice when choosing a life partner and instilled in me only to go out with someone who I could actually see a future with. I don’t think I really appreciated all that meant until now, five years on, and it’s interesting to reflect on things I wish I knew before I got married. I started thinking about new relationships and what advice I would give someone looking now for the best chance of a long-lasting relationship and marriage.
Looking back, I realise that what is in a checklist for a good partner is very different when you get older, reality kicks in and priorities change. Thankfully, my husband has blossomed into an incredible husband and father; more than I could imagine or hope for. But I know not everyone has that experience. So, here’s some of the things I wish I knew before I got married.
The importance of being unified in faith
As a Christian, finding a Christian partner was of utmost importance for me. I didn’t realise quite how much it mattered until I was living with my husband. Being on the same wavelength about faith is vital. How we deal with situations would be completely different if we were not both Christians – how we spend our Sundays, how we prioritise our life, how we spend our quiet times.
Being able to share in faith is critical, as you want to be able to share your lives fully. Being able to pray with my husband is one of the most intimate things God has given us. Having God in the centre of our marriage is integral and gives us a confidence that God is in charge and looking after us.
Without being unified in this, having God as the first and strongest love would potentially annoy a non-Christian partner. There’s a whole part of life that you can’t share. It’s not just ‘being’ a Christian – it’s living as one.
Know that love is more than a feeling
You can’t base a relationship on feelings alone. Love is not just about feeling in love; it’s a choice. I can guarantee my husband has days where he feels like I’m hard work! Those days, loving me is a choice.
Don’t crave the honeymoon period feelings. In marriage you make a commitment. The excited, buzzing feeling at the beginning will not last, but it will grow to a deeper, more sincere and beautiful love if you let it.
Marry someone for who they are, not their status or their job, as all that can be taken away in a second. Someone who, if everything was stripped away, you can still love.
Finding a man in touch with their sensitive side is like gold dust. A steadfast man is more ‘manly’ than what society believes manhood should look like. A caring woman is more beautiful than what the world defines as beauty.
Realise that looks fade but character stays
“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. It’s not enough just to find your partner physically attractive. The inside is important – loyalty, trustworthiness, honesty and openness are so valuable.
Be with the good guy (or girl), not the bad guy. I once heard that it’s not about being with the life of the party, it’s about being with the person who makes sure the life of the party gets home safely. Don’t seek after the ‘chase’ and the excitement of a new relationship. That is exciting at first, but longer term you’ll find it hard to settle and could go from relationship to relationship.
I realise more and more that the superficial comes second to what’s inside. Yes, it’s important to be attracted physically to your partner but, in the long run, a loyal partner who loves you at your worst (not just your best) is more valuable than a chiseled jaw or a great dress sense!
Marriage is exposing – there’s a reason why the vows say, “for better, for worse”. You will see each other at your absolute worst and to still love each other during that time is the kind of partner you want to be, and you want to be with.
1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be that of a hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beautify of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Proverbs 31:30 says, “charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Marriage has exposed to me my worst faults and characteristics, yet my husband still loves me through them.
Understand the role of extended family
My mother told me when I got married that you don’t just marry your partner, you marry into a family, and you don’t realise this fully until you are married. It can’t just be the two of you – you are now integrated into a wider family.
This can be a real blessing and, praise God, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wider family. Sometimes it can be full of hurt, but you need to support your partner through it, and you are now a part of it. But whatever the situation is in the family, if there’s heartache or joy, you are marrying into it.
Even if your partner does not talk to their family, you are still a part of that situation. I was very adamant that my husband became a son to my parents, and I became a daughter to my in-laws. That was important to me.
When dating, if you are serious about your partner, get to know their family situation as, if the relationship progresses, you will be integrated into the family whether you like it or not. You will be there through the ups and downs of family life; you will need to support your partner through joys and losses.
Trying to get involved and get along with the other side of the family makes life a lot easier for everyone involved.
Be honest about children
It’s vital that you are able to talk about children openly and honestly. It’s not necessarily something that you think of talking about when starting to date and it can be seen as ‘full on’ but it shouldn’t be. It needs to be discussed sensitively and at the right time so that assumptions are not made.
It is a huge topic that you need to be united on: if you want children; if you don’t want children; if you are open to changing your mind as time goes on; when you would like them; if you already have them; or if there are career moves you or your partner want to make before having them?
You and your partner need to know this. You don’t want to get further down the line and find that your partner does not want kids at all, when you’d love them. Personally, we knew we needed time to gel us together as a couple first, before the prospect of children.
If you are hoping to have children in your future, remember that the person that you are in a relationship with could be the father or mother of your children. This puts a different perspective on the relationship. Choose a father or mother for your children and choose wisely.
Having children changes the dynamic of your relationship completely, and you need to feel comfortable with the person you are choosing to do that with and feel 100% supported.
These are just some of the things I wish I knew before I got married!
And a final thought: find a true heart. One that loves God, first and foremost, and obeys His Word. A true heart will produce honesty, loyalty, steadfastness, and kindness, and a Godly heart will produce the fruits of the Spirit. A heart like this is invaluable and worth more than any high-flying job or six-figure salary. Marriage is raw but beautiful – it chisels you into a better person if you find the right person to spend the rest of your life with.
Hannah and her husband met on Christian Connection. Watch their story below or read it here.
Enjoyed reading ‘5 things I wish I knew before I got married’? You might like ‘A year of marriage after meeting on Christian Connection‘ and ‘One of the most important things to look for when considering a marriage partner‘